Jamaican Flavors in Dubai: 8 Authentic Dishes You Can Try Today

Jamaican Flavors in Dubai: 8 Authentic Dishes You Can Try Today

Jamaican cooking is all about rich, bold flavors that use a lot of fresh produce, herbs and spices. A feast for the senses, Jamaican cuisine is a fusion of culinary techniques and ingredients from many cultures that have influenced the island over the centuries, including the native Taino and Arawak tribes as well as African, Asian and European settlers.

If you’ve never tried Jamaican food before, you’re in for a symphony of tastes and textures. And you don’t have to high-tail it all the way to the Caribbean for them, either. Right here in Dubai, you can find traditional dishes, from street food to fine dining, that’ll transport your taste buds to the thatched-roof shack restaurants on the beach fronts of Jamaica. 

8 Must-Try Jamaican Dishes in Dubai

While skimming a Jamaican food menu in Dubai, be sure to look out for the following signature dishes:

1. Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken
Jerk Chicken

A quintessential item on any Jamaican menu, jerk chicken is an explosion of tangy, smoky and spicy flavors. 

The name comes from the cooking technique used to prepare it, “jerking,” in which the main ingredient (in this case, chicken) is coated in spices and slowly cooked over a hardwood fire or grill. The wood used to smoke the meat is usually pimento, which gives it its distinct flavor. 

For jerk chicken, the marinade is a crucial component, and every cook has their secret blend of spices. However, the most common ingredients include scotch bonnet peppers, allspice berries, thyme, garlic, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. 

After sizzling to charred perfection, it’s often served with either a side of rice and peas, callaloo (a protein-rich leafy vegetable), festival (a sweet, fried dough), plantain chips or steamed cabbage.

You’ll probably also find other variations of jerk dishes like meat, goat or fish on the menu, so if chicken isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options to try.

2. Curry Goat

Curry Goat
Curry Goat

Curry made its way to Jamaica through Indian laborers who came to work on the island’s sugar plantations in the 19th century. Today, it is a staple ingredient in Jamaican cuisine and is often combined with other local favorites like allspice and wallop peppers to spin out some deliciously fiery dishes.

In this hearty stew, goat meat is slowly simmered for at least two hours to soak up the rich, aromatic curry flavors until it’s fall-off-the-bone tender. You’ll undoubtedly leave no morsel behind when you sample it paired with rice and peas or roti bread.

3. Oxtail

Marinated with jerk sauce or made into stew, oxtail is another unmissable delicacy bound to win over your palate. Although oxtail is known for being a tough cut of meat with high cartilage content, in the hands of a Jamaican chef, it’s transformed into a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece.

To get the tenderness just right, restaurants braise it for hours with a medley of seasonings and ingredients, including browning sauce, ginger, thyme, allspice, scotch bonnet pepper, butter beans and more. The result is a rustic, tantalizingly sweet and savory dish often served alongside good ol’ rice and peas, or boiled yam, dumplings, or breadfruit.

4. Beef Patties

A far cry from the average hard-rock, microwavable snack you toss in the back of your freezer, traditional Jamaican patties are a flaky and buttery delight. 

They are usually stuffed with ground beef (there’s also chicken, shrimp, lobster, fish and veggie varieties) seasoned with nutmeg, allspice, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, paprika and onions. The patties are then baked until their turmeric dough turns a gorgeous golden brown.

5. Ital Stew

Ital is a way of life and a dietary philosophy created by Jamaica’s Rastafarian community. The term comes from the words “vital or vitality,” and promotes a natural, healthier way of eating, free of preservatives, colorings, additives, chemicals, and, most importantly, animal products. 

So, if you are looking to add some color and tasty textures to your meatless Monday, you will want to order an ital stew. It’s an incredibly versatile and satisfying dish jam-packed with flavorful ingredients like pumpkin, carrots, cabbage, corn, beans and more.

Plain or coconut rice are the best companions to ital stew since they soak up every last drop of its delicious broth.

6. Ackee and Saltfish

Ackee and saltfish is Jamaica’s national dish. It is prepared with the yellow flesh of a boiled ackee (a round, reddish-orange fruit native to West Africa) and pan-fried with salted cod, onions, chilis, tomatoes and spices.

At first glance, it looks like scrambled eggs with a tropical twist. It’s typically paired with a side of hard-dough bread, coleslaw, or Jamaican dumplings and makes for a hearty breakfast or brunch option. 

It’s an acquired taste for some, but one that’s definitely worth trying.

7. Run Down

Run down or “rundun” (as it’s known locally) is a creamy fish stew that gets its name from how the fish is slow-cooked to the point where it falls apart and “runs down” the side of your spoon. 

Most commonly, it is made using mackerel, cod, or sea bass, which is simmered in sweet coconut milk to balance out the saltiness of the fish, and then infused with Jamaican flavors of scotch bonnet pepper, thyme and pimento.

Once the consistency is just right and the fish is tender and flaky, it’s served with festival or boiled green bananas for an authentic Jamaican culinary experience suitable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

8. Coconut Drops

Sugary, gooey coconut drops would be the perfect way to top off your Jamaican food feast. They’re about the size of a cookie and the texture of a peanut brittle, but the flavor is all coconut.

Explore the World of Jamaican Cuisine in Dubai

No matter which dish you decide to try, one thing’s for sure: Jamaican cuisine is a fusion of robust flavors that will spice up your dining experience. 

And now that you know you can find authentic Jamaican food in Dubai, round up your family and friends, head to your nearest restaurant and explore the delicious dishes of this Caribbean island. 

Similar Posts